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Friday, 26 February 2010 19:16

Telcos to face tougher competition from VoIP

By
In its half year results Telstra made much of the sudden decline in PSTN revenues. VoIP's contribution that to decline is still tiny but the latest initiative from wholesale VoIP service provider, Symbio Networks, could make VoIP significantly more competitive.

Symbio Networks presently provides VoIP services sold 'white label' by some 60 channel partners, the largest being the closely related MyNetFone with about 70.000 customers. It claims to carry over one billion minutes of traffic per month through its operations in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

However, according to technical director, Rene Sugo, the uptake of VoIP, especially in the business market, is being held back significantly by the difficulty VoIP providers have in porting customers' telephone numbers - enabling them to use their existing numbers with their new VoIP service.

For 'category C' customers - business with large blocks of numbers and complex arrangements the process can take up to eight weeks at present, according to Sugo, and lacks predictability.

"This means the VoIP provider has to install the VoIP service first and then arrange the port. Customers have to use, and pay, for both systems during the cutover period," he said.

Rather than go through the pain of this process, many small business retain their old telephone lines for incoming calls and use their new VoIP service for outgoing calls only.

But according to Sugo, "More and more people are wanting to reduce the double cost, even big customer with 30 or 60 channel ISDN trunks want to port their service and get rid of the [ISDN] because that is when they really start to make savings."

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Symbio Networks intends to offer predictability and reduced time to porting numbers from other telcos to the VoIP services offered by its resellers. "We hope to port category A [single phone lines] in two to three days and category C in two to three weeks, Sugo said.

However equally important will be the predictability Symbio hopes to bring to porting. "We will be in control of the process so we will be able to plan the installation of the VoIP service in sync with the porting," Sugo said.

Symbio, he said aims to make the process of switching from PSTN services to VoIP as painless for customers and changing between PSTN service providers.

"We have to me more professional, it has to be like dealing with a tier one telco: a defined process, a predictable timeframe and a grade of service that business customers can feel comfortable with."

To achieve this Symbio has acquired a carrier access code that will enable it to interconnect its VoIP infrastructure with Tier 1 and Tier 2 telcos in a way that is on par with how they interconnect with each other.

It then intends to put in place porting agreements with some of the largest telcos (Sugo won't say which at present) and to make use of their business-to-business systems to automate the porting process as much as possible.

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He suggested that this facility, which he said was still some months from being available to Symbio's wholesale partners, would give fresh impetus to the VoIP market. "All the early adopters have jumped in [to VoIP] and are doing work arounds, but most small business just want it to happen to cut over to VoIP with the same numbers."

In anticipation of the increased customers and traffic that this will bring, Symbio says it is "expanding active network capacity to triple current infrastructure volumes."

Symbio claims as one of its key differentiators its in-house R&D capability. "This has allowed Symbio to develop all of the software needed for integration into to the Australian PSTN. Important B2B applications such as local number portability, carrier route selection, billing mediation and others have all been developed in-house; which means these capabilities are tightly integrated into Symbio's fully VoIP core network, highly automated and all Web -enabled."


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